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The National Bureau of Investigation has participated in an international investigation into an organised criminal drug trafficking ring, in which, with the coordination of Europol and under the leadership of the Serbian security authorities, law enforcement authorities from Brazil, France, Croatia, Poland, Portugal and Spain, assisted by the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre for Narcotics (MAOC-N), also took part.

In January 2022, the Belgrade branch of the Serbian Criminal Police started investigating a drug cartel allegedly involved in the wholesale trafficking of cocaine from South America to the EU. The major international investigation into this network, which was carried out under the auspices of Europol, involved both non-European and European countries, including Slovenia. According to the information gathered, the ring allegedly smuggled multi-tonne shipments of cocaine from Brazil into the EU.

According to the findings of the security authorities, the Ukrainian and Czech captains made several trips to Cape Verde and elsewhere in West Africa to prepare the vessel for smuggling operations. However, recent operational information suggests that the vessel is in Brazil and the authorities there, with the assistance of the Spanish authorities and the support of the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre for Narcotics (MAOC-N), have started to closely monitor its movements.

On 24 August 2023, the final action resulted in:

  • 6 arrests,
  • 15 house searches,
  • seizure of 2.7 tonnes of cocaine,
  • seizure of two high-end vehicles, prestigious watches and over EUR 550,000 in cash,
  • blocking of several bank accounts and seizure of real estate for the duration of the financial investigation.

The investigators have identified one of the main organisers of the criminal network and the main suspect as a Serbian national. Law enforcement authorities therefore targeted him and other individuals who were key actors in the cartel’s continued operation. The main coordinators of the cartel’s activities organised the transports using encrypted communication platforms.

Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided continued analytical support to the investigation. The information obtained helped to reveal a complete hidden network active on several continents and in several countries.